Common Law Divorce
Texas recognizes what is referred to as “common law” marriage. In fact, the Texas Family Code has created a statutory definition of a common law marriage, or “informal marriage,” that makes it equal to a marriage granted with a valid marriage license and ceremony.
This is important because, while couples in a common law marriage are not married in the traditional way, Texas still recognizes them to have the same legal rights and obligations as traditional marriages. This includes going through a traditional, legal divorce if they wish to end the marriage.
Am I in a Common Law Marriage?
The answer depends on a few factors. In order to be recognized in a common law marriage, the parties must have the capacity to enter into a marriage (be 18 years or older) and meet common law criteria.
Requirements for a Common Law Marriage:
- The parties agreed to be married;
- The parties signed a declaration of marriage;
- The parties lived together as spouses; and
- The parties presented themselves to others as married.
These determinants themselves can be the subject of dispute among spouses seeking separation. An experienced attorney will know how to prove or disprove claims about the validity of a common law marriage.
Considerations in a Common Law Marriage
While, in many cases, the spouses can simply go their separate ways, a spouse who wants to take advantage of the benefits granted in the Texas Family Code must first prove a common law marriage. For instance, a divorce in a common law marriage (just as in a formal marriage) allows the court to assign rights and obligations, protect assets, and divide up marital property.
You may, however, want to deny the existence of a common law marriage. The most common reason for doing so would be to prevent your alleged spouse from exercising community property rights over your property in a divorce or probate proceeding.
With regard to issues dealing solely with children, it is not necessary to litigate the existence of a common law marriage. Parental rights and duties exist regardless of the parents’ marital status.
Talk to a Qualified DFW Divorce Attorney
The common law divorce lawyers at Hardy Law Group can help you navigate all components of the divorce process by fiercely advocating on your behalf and keeping your informed and on track. Our mission is to maximize your legal interests while minimizing your concerns.
Regardless of the complexities in your divorce, we promise to resolve it as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. This requires a clear understanding of your legal issues and goals so your attorney can best determine the most appropriate course of action. We invite you to download our New Client Questionnaire to get an idea of the potential topics that need to be addressed. Contact our Dallas/Fort Worth divorce attorneys for a free case evaluation now at (817) 887-9158.